Human-powered vehicles to manage pollution problem

Human-powered vehicles to manage pollution problem

The local municipal corporation in Berhampur, a major business hub in southern Orissa, has come out with an interesting plan to reduce the pollution level in the town and make it more environmentally friendly.

The Corporation has decided to encourage its residents, particularly the employees of the state and Central government offices, to go to their respective work places on bicycles at least once in a week.

The Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BMC), in fact, has already implemented the plan in its own office and on every Monday, all the one thousand and odd corporation employees as well as the mayor and his fellow corporators come to office on
bicycles. The lady employees, however, have been allowed to use hired cycle rickshaws.

Procession on bicycles

The locals in the town which is part of Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency, widely known as the erstwhile Parliament seat of former prime minister and Congress heavyweight, the late Narasimha Rao, were surprised one fine Monday morning recently when they saw the corporation mayor, Shiva Shankar Das and other Corporators heading towards the corporation office in a procession on bicycles instead of their four and two wheelers. Even the heavy downpour did not dampen their spirit.

That was the first Monday after the mayor and the corporators passed an official resolution at one of the corporation meetings to use cycles on the first day of the week.  No other corporation or municipality in the state has adopted such an official resolution before. ‘‘Apart from saving fuel and helping control pollution in the town a cycle ride is also good for health and keep people and fit", said Das to waiting local journalists after finishing his maiden bicycle ride to his office.

Reduce pollution

This interesting initiative is the brainchild of the mayor who further informed that the municipal corporation has requested other states as well as Central government offices to adopt the idea to reduce pollution levels in their towns. ‘‘We have requested the employees of other offices to discard their vehicles and use cycles to go to their respective offices at least once in a week,’’ Das said.

His appeal seems to be already having an impact as another major government office,  the Berhampur Development Authority (BDA) is reportedly contemplating conveying to all its employees to follow the policy adopted by their counterparts in the municipal corporation office.

The mayor also hoped that by adopting the ‘‘cycle to office once in a week" policy, Berhampur will set an example for other towns and cities in the state to make their areas pollution free.

The BMC, especially the mayor's efforts to control pollution has already been appreciated by citizens in other towns and cities including the state capital Bhubaneswar. However, doubts have cropped up in the minds of some common citizens about the continuity of the policy adopted by the BMC. 

‘‘It is a brilliant initiative. But the Berhampur mayor is after all a politician. And politicians do have a habit of abandoning the good work after a well publicised launch. It remains to be seen how long the environment friendly effort continues", said Ambika Sahu, a Bhubaneswar resident.

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